King the Muscovy Drake

Muscovy Duck

The Muscovy is a very unique breed of duck. In fact, it’s not even a true duck – it’s simply called a duck. The Muscovy is to the duck world what the donkey is to the equine world. In other words, it’s a different species, although quite closely related. Crossing a donkey with a horse will produce a sterile mule, and crossing a Muscovy with a duck will produce a sterile “mule duck.”

All true ducks originate from the Mallard. The Muscovy does not.

Muscovies originated in South America, and are now feral in many parts of the world, where they are often considered a nuisance, like pigeons. They’re also called the Barbary duck.

Muscovies come in a tremendous variety of colors. The original, wild Muscovy was black with a white patch on the wing.

Today, there are all-white strains, magpie strains (bi-colored, usually solid black and white), and blue, chocolate, silver, lavender (self-blue), buff, blue fawn, lilac, and pastel.

The feather patterns can be laced, barred, rippled, or self, and many have a gene for a white head, which shows up during the second year.

True wild Muscovy. Image by "SandyCole" on Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
True wild Muscovy. Image by “SandyCole” on Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Some people think Muscovies are ugly because of their caruncles, a red (sometimes partially black), warty “mask” around the face.

Their claws are long and sharp, like talons, so take care when handling them.

These ducks have a wide, flat tail that they wag like a dog. Why do Muscovies wag their tail? Well, some people say they wag their tail after a nervous experience or after some problem has been resolved (such as after they have been picked up and held), but they seem to also do it when they’re happy or while conversing with other ducks.

Also, while they enjoy swimming water, they aren’t as water repellent as other ducks because their oil glands are not so well developed, and swimming water isn’t as necessary for them as some other breeds. Some of mine only take a bath about once a month.

As adults, males and females are extremely easy to identify. Males are far larger than females. They’re about 9-15 pounds (4-7 kg), and females are only 5.5 to 7 pounds (2.5-3 kg).

Drake
An older Muscovy drake with his crest raised (click to enlarge).

The caruncles of the males are also much more pronounced. Some females have only a trace of red caruncling around their eye and bill. Some drakes, on the other hand, have so much caruncling that they can barely see.



Please do not breed Muscovies with excessive caruncling. It’s the result of man’s bad breeding and should not be encouraged.

The voice of drakes is extremely different as well, but unlike most other ducks, males do not develop curled “sex feathers.”

They have an erectile crest of feathers on their head, which they raise when they are excited or nervous.

est of a female Muscovy duck
The crest of a female Muscovy duck. Males generally have taller crests than females, but this female has an exceptionally tall crest.

Females have one too, but much smaller.

As juveniles, the males grow faster and develop caruncles before the females, while the females develop wing feathers earlier than the males.

Females will look feminine and slender whereas males will be chunkier and more masculine.

By eight weeks old, many experienced Muscovy owners can already identify the sex of their ducklings.

For more information and pictures, see 10 Effective Ways to Determine Your Muscovy Duck’s Gender (With Pictures).

10 Effective Ways To Sex Your Muscovy Duck (With Pictures)

 

Drakes vs duck
Notice how much larger the two drakes are compared to the duck (click to view full image).
Drake vs ducks
Another example of the size difference between the sexes.

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck,” is proof Muscovies aren’t ducks.

In contrast to the noisy quacking of other ducks, Muscovies are extremely quiet. However, although they are often called “mute ducks,” they aren’t completely silent.

Males have a hoarse hiss, and females are often described as having a soft musical whimper, which isn’t too loud, sounds nice, and isn’t likely to disturb your neighbors.

Muscovies can make a loud sound, almost like a honk, when they are startled, and they squeak when they’re broody. From time to time the flock will also gather together and have a loud “conversation,” with all the ducks “talking” at once, but this is the loudest they get and even this isn’t likely to annoy anyone.

They’re the quietest of all the poultry. Chickens are noisy, geese are noisy, guineas are noisy, and female Mallard-derived ducks are noisy, but the Muscovy is, overall, quiet.



Unlike other ducks, Muscovies perch. They don’t truly roost like chickens, but they enjoy perching on something.

Perching
Oreo, a four-month-old Muscovy duck, perches on the side of her water tub. She tucks one of her legs up to rest it. Sometimes they tuck it into a pocket beneath their wing so their foot is completely invisible.

In the wild, they slept in trees. Some of mine sleep on top of their nest box. They also enjoy sitting on concrete blocks, old piles of wood, tractors, wheelbarrows, or any raised object. Even if their wings are clipped, they can jump well.

Muscovy ducks are good jumpers! Coffee, whose wings are clipped, leaps for a cucumber peel.

Females fly extraordinarily well and may have to be clipped, although in many modern strains, the males are too heavy to be airborne.

Excellent flier
Muscovies are excellent fliers! This picture was of Skylar’s last flight before we clipped her wings.

Muscovies are also excellent foragers and can find a good portion of their own food.

Foraging duck
When it’s not too hot, Muscovies spend a lot of their time foraging for food.

I’ve found that in some duck books, Muscovies are said to lay only 60 eggs a year. Others say they lay up to 120. My own ducks lay on the higher end of the scale.

The difference comes from your climate. Muscovies are tropical ducks and even prone to frostbite in cold climates, and they lay less where it’s cold.

Muscovy eggs are large and white.

Muscovies are excellent mothers. They frequently go broody and set on their eggs for 35 days, which is longer than for most ducks.

If you let them hatch their eggs, they will usually take excellent care of the ducklings.

Muscovy with ducklings
Muscovies are excellent mothers and very protective of their young.
Broody Muscovy duck
A broody Muscovy duck. Many Muscovies go broody at every opportunity.

Muscovies cannot be crossed with other breeds to produce a fertile duck. Instead, the offspring will be a “mule.”

However, some people cross Muscovies with Pekins to produce a Moulard, which is used for meat.



Muscovy meat is prized. It’s dark and delicious. It’s not fatty like the meat from many other ducks, and some people compare it to veal or even sirloin steak.

Some people say Muscovies are the most sweet-tempered breed of duck.

Friendly duck
A friendly Muscovy duck named Sugar eats from a human’s hand.

Others declare they are ferocious and aggressive. Now, broody ducks are as ferocious as crocodiles, and there are occasionally drakes that attack humans, but in general, they’re very docile and friendly. (If you have an aggressive drake, he CAN be cured. Read more here.)

Some say they have more personality than other breeds of ducks. That’s probably just personal opinion, but although I have not yet had the privilege of raising other breeds of ducks and can’t give you any comparisons, I can tell you that Muscovies certainly have distinct personalities. Learning about my ducks’ personalities, in fact, is kind of a hobby of mine.

Muscovies were the first animals I ever raised. They are quiet, sweet, lay enough eggs for a family, have excellent meat, are good mothers, and make good pets.

I wholeheartedly recommend them.

GALLERY (click an image to enlarge)

 

Most animals spend a lot of time eating. As you probably know, factory-farmed chickens are constrained in battery cages and not allowed to find their own food. Here’s an eye-opening, fascinating video called “Eat To Live” that explores what those things actually SYMBOLIZE for us in the Word of God. It’s certainly food for thought! 🙂

Video from Inspire4.

66 thoughts on “Muscovy Duck”

  1. Question, I have several wild Muscovy that live in the neighborhood more specifically my yard and I absolutely adore them. There’s only two girls and five males. One of the females had babies a couple months ago so they are pretty big now almost the same size as mama. I just wanted to know when will they start to fly?

    1. It won’t be long! Muscovy wings are fully developed around four months of age (about sixteen weeks). However, it can vary between various strains, and males’ wings often develop slower, so it usually takes longer before they figure out how to fly. Many males in modern strains are too heavy to fly, but wild males should be able to.

      I bet watching the babies grow up was fun. 🙂 Ducklings are the most adorable things on earth.

      Also, I realize wild ducks may not be under your jurisdiction, but two females to five males is generally too much and can often result in males injuring each other through fighting or accidentally killing the females. They may be okay, at least for now, but please do keep an eye on them! If they seem to be fighting too much or injuring each other, maybe you could find a way to rehome/relocate some of the males.

  2. Hi, I have a single male Muscovy. Found him abandoned on the street of all places. He’s happily living in my front yard now. Question is, does he need a female? Lately, he’s become pretty aggressive towards mostly everyone. He doesn’t necessarily attack, to me, it seems as if he’s biting out of frustration.

    1. Muscovy drake aggression is almost always because the drake is either trying to dominate you or mate you. I don’t know if they bite out of frustration, but I can say he most likely wants a female. Please get more than one, if possible, because having one male and one female can sometimes result in the lone female being mated too much and thus injured.

      If that doesn’t stop the problems, you probably need to actually show him that you are “flock boss” and on top of the pecking order. It isn’t necessarily easy, but aggressive birds can be quite stubborn. If you’ve ever seen drakes fight, the winner will always, in the end of the fight, pin the loser down and hold him down for several minutes. Many drake owners have had success doing this. Other people have tried using a broom to push him away and fend off all his attacks, and some drakes give up when they are repeatedly treated like this every time they try to bite.

      Hope that helps!

    2. It’s possible he needs a female….sometimes the drakes get aggressive when they want to breed. However, if you don’t want to do that, try taking him somewhere else, maybe your backyard, to explore, and he might get happier.

  3. Hi! I am designing a barn-stall-turned-into-a-coop for a mixed flock of chickens and muscovies. I am having a hard time finding out much about nest boxes. Will they lay eggs in the same boxes as the chickens, or do I need different boxes/areas?

    The chickens and muscovies are not here yet, and it will be several weeks before they are coop-ready.

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Ducks have no problem sharing nest boxes. The only possible problem is that Muscovies are pickier about where they lay their eggs than most chickens and may not like a box that chickens are perfectly happy with.

      I wrote an article about ducks who hide their eggs and how to get them to lay in nest boxes here:
      http://www.raising-ducks.com/hidden-nest/

      It’ll tell you how to build nests that they will actually want to use. I intend to write more about nest boxes in the near future, but I think that article will have enough information to help you.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

    2. It is dangerous to house drakes with chickens. Drakes are horn dogs that will mate anything relatively close to the shape of a duck. If a drake mates a chicken it will kill her. Chickens are not made to take the corkscrew penis of a drake, it will literally rip her inside out.

          1. Hi Sherrie,

            Yes, it would be a good idea. They may have been okay so far, but something could happen anytime. Better safe than sorry. 😃

            Hannah

  4. my 2 year old layed eggs in a HOLE in the ground. I moved the eggs to fill in the hole with dirt so she could rotate them. Now I don’t see her sitting on them anymore. Is there something I can do or is it to late? also last year I had 3 females and they all only layed one time. is there something I can do to get them to lay more often? I live on the coast of Ga. thanks cindy

    1. I’m sorry, but yes, it’s too late. Most ducks do not like if their nest is changed or moved and will stop being broody.

      It’s strange they only laid once. That’s usually not normal. There are a number of possible explanations, however.

      When did they lay – December, August…? Have they laid this year yet? Duck will take a break from laying once a year for approximately one to two months, while they molt. Also, many ducks don’t lay much, if at all, in winter. But if they’re not molting and it’s not winter, they should be laying, even if not every single day.

      Stress is one possible reason a duck might not lay. Is there anything stressful that frequently happens to your ducks–they get chased by dogs/kids, they get picked up and petted or held a lot, they are in a pen that is too small, they are beaten up by chickens or other animals frequently, they don’t always have water available, etc.?

      An improper diet or not receiving enough calcium could also prevent a duck from laying normally. What are you feeding them? Do you give them a calcium supplement such as oyster shell or eggshells?

      Overweight birds won’t lay. If you have food constantly available, it’s possible for them to overeat and become obese.

      Parasites and disease are another possible cause. You may want to read about the symptoms of parasites and diseases to rule this out.

      Did you buy these three ducks as adults from someone else? Even if they said the birds were young, it’s possible they’re old and are now too old to lay.

      I don’t know what the climate is like in GA, but weather extremes can also stress a duck and make them stop laying.

      Finally, maybe they ARE laying and you just don’t know it. Many times, people complain that their birds aren’t laying, only to find out, at some point, that foxes or other predators are eating all the eggs. Sometimes, even the ducks themselves start eating the eggs, a habit that is difficult to break. Or they could be laying in secret nests that you don’t know about.

      Artificial light can be used to make the ducks thing the days are longer than they really are and trick them into laying during winter, but I don’t think that will help in your case.

      Thanks for bringing this up. I’m going to put “why aren’t my ducks laying?” into my list of posts I need to write. And I hoped this helped you or gave you a clue as to why your ducks might not be laying normally.

      1. they lay one time in the spring. they already layed this year. she laid 17 but after 2 weeks she just left the nest again. I think next time I will but the eggs under my hen. I will add calcium to there diet. I do for my chickens but never thought of it for the ducks. thank you! they don’t have anything that would stress them that you listed but I will check into things much not clearer from a different perspective. Thank you so much for the response!!

  5. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I love the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, wonderful site!

  6. I live in Hawaii . I have one female one male Muscovy duck . Recently the male is attacking me . I know it’s spring . He continues to attack even after I push him down . I love him but need help . Please help what should I do ? I do not want to get more female ducks . Am I doomed ?

    1. I’m working on a complete, in-depth article on this right now. I’ll try to get it finished ASAP and give you the link. For now, though–no, you’re not doomed, and you probably don’t need to get more female ducks, although it might help.

      1. Thank you I’m going to put drake in barn for now . Considering getting rid of him but it breaks my heart . I love him so much . That seems crazy . I’m attached to him too . But I can’t get attached. When I whack him he keeps jumping on me again and again . Even when I’m protecting myself with take he attacks take and gets stuck I drop take run out shut gate . It’s awful
        .i have always talked to and petted him . This aggression is just in last week . Before he was loving came to me followed me . Let me pet him lots . 😒😂thank you so much for writing me back . I’ll wait to hear from you and leave him in barn .

        1. Hi Joan,

          I’m sorry for how long it took me to finish this. Here’s my article on how to fix drake aggression:

          http://www.raising-ducks.com/aggressive-drakes

          It still needs some refinement, and I want to add videos and pictures, but I wanted to send it to you as soon as I could.

          Please let me know if you have any questions or think there’s something I should add. I want to make this as complete and informative as possible. It would also be really nice you can give me additional feedback such as how you understood it and how well it works for you. Thank you.

    2. It’s possible that it wants to breed, and either the female refuses or is already bred. I understand you don’t want to get more females but you may have to to make him happier and less aggresssive.

  7. Hi Hannah.
    I have 2 muscovy drakes and 2 females, they are all around 5 months old. Recently the drakes have started making a weird huffing/growling/chuckling sound. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I am curious to know what this means. They do it sometimes when my dog approaches them, or even when I am close to them. This does not always happen, but they are very tame and one even climbes onto my lap when I have snacks for them. At first I thought it was because they don’t like the dog but they do it even when only I am around. Do you know why they make this sound?

    Thanks

    1. Since they’re five months old, it’s just that they have gotten their adult voice. 😊 Their hissing is just talking. Adult drakes can’t really make any other sounds.

        1. Ah, okay. Thanks for the video. Mine make that sound too, in certain situations. I’m not sure I know exactly what it means, but it seems to have a connection to aggression. One of mine (who was aggressive in the past and is still bold and fearless) will sometimes do it if I kneel near him. They also do it when challenging other drakes to a fight. The drake in that video is being slightly threatening. Not necessarily aggressive, but he’s definitely bold and is telling the person he is not afraid of them and he is not going to back down.

          So it could be a precursor to aggression. Your drakes definitely sound bold. It’s possible he’s trying to “test the water” and see if you want to fight with him. Tame, friendly drakes tend to see you as a part of their pecking order and social structure and often try to test people.

          Hope that makes sense! I’m going to watch my drakes when they do this more so I can get a better idea of what it exactly means.

          1. Thank you so much Hannah! I’ve spent some time with them today to try and figure out what triggers this response. They definitely do it when the dog gets close and I’ve recorded some videos.

            Thank you!

  8. Hi Hannah

    My female Muscovy is drinking but not eating. Vet can’t figure it out either, She is bright eyed and not lethargic but just not eating. Have tried meal worms and everything else under the sun. She used to eat her Mazuri daily and was very perky with her coop-mates mom/dad/brother and 3 sisters, She’s not engaging with them so we have her in a room with us to monitor her and assist feed with crushed Mazuri and pedialyte. She is bathing with the tub we have for her. Crop isn’t sour–not blocked-good droppings. We love her soooo much…any suggestions?

  9. Great site and really appreciate all the learning! Question: Is it possible to know if a pair of Muscovies have mated without seeing it? Our property is surrounded by a creek so I can’t have my eyes on them at all times. I’d like her to start brooding but I don’t know if she likes the male. He’s a pushover and both of them are extremely social with me. She has 3 eggs I don’t want to take away because they might be fertile. Please any insight would be fantastic. They’re my first couple.

    1. Well, if a male and female duck are together, it’s pretty much a given that they’ll mate. But you can’t tell for sure unless you witness it or unless your eggs are fertile. You have to let them incubate for about 4-7 days before you’re able to see signs of life in the eggs when candling. I’d leave the eggs and wait until she goes broody and then wait until she’s been sitting for a few days, and then I’d candle.

    2. Oh, I forgot. If she’s missing feathers on the back of her head, it most likely means that not only is he mating her, but he’s doing it too much. If this happens, you need to add a couple more females.

  10. Hi Hannah!
    Another question 🙂
    I have 2 muscovy males and 2 females. I got the 2 males and one of the females when they were about 3 weeks old. I got the other female a few weeks ago from a guy who said she was about 5 months old (about the same age as the other muscovies now).
    When we got her home, at first we thought that she was just dirty, but it’s been about 3 weeks and she still has the same dark marks on her legs and feet. It doesn’t look like she is supposed to have dark legs, but I don’t know.
    Do you maybe know what causes these marks? I could send you photos if it would help?

    Thanks!
    Carla

    1. Yes, photos would be nice as I’m not sure what these marks look like. But it sounds normal. The markings on my ducks’ feet is very random. Some have completely dark or gray legs, some have orange feet and legs with dark splotches, some have almost completely orange legs. I’ve never heard of any problem with a duck’s leg color, except in certain breeds where they are supposed to have all orange legs or something. Muscovy leg color doesn’t matter.

    2. It could just be the color that the Muscovy is. However, you may want to check and see if it’s not an injury of some sort.

  11. Thanks Hannah!
    How do I send them to you? 🙂

    Another thing I forgot to mention is that some of the marks seem to go away, but most of them are still there.

  12. Hi Hannah!

    Do muscovy females lay bigger eggs the older they get?
    My one female’s eggs are about 5cm tall (she is definitely not older than 6 months)
    But the other female’s eggs are about 6 cm, which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s really much larger (I have no idea how old she is) . This female’s nest is also much neater and she uses feathers, twigs and soil, where the other one just laid hers in a hole.

    Carla

    1. Not really. The first eggs are usually small, but they quickly reach their normal size. I have some ducks that regularly lay large eggs, and others that always lay small eggs. It depends more on the individual duck than the age. Same with the nests. I have one duck who always wants to lay above the ground, in wheelbarrows, raised nest boxes, flowerpots, and things like that. She always makes really nice nests. Her sister, on the other hand, sticks her eggs in random holes.

      Weight is a better way to find out how big an egg is. Muscovy eggs are usually 65 to 85 grams. Mine, for some reason, are usually smaller than that. I think it might be because my ducks are closer to the wild version of Muscovies.

  13. Thank you for the info. There is not much out there on Muscovies. I need your advise. Next paragraph is my story, which you can skip if your time is limited. My question is at the bottom

    I live close to Tampa Florida. I have several ducks, chickens and one PB Pig. I do rescue, at times. I have a women that works at the local fruit stand that brings “day old” fruits and veggies to my animals. This is going to sound crazy, one day she brought me 11 rescued muscovy eggs out of a nest that was thrown in a business owner’s dumpster. Fast Forward, three hatched. I was ignorant to the breed so i read everything i could find. Most of it negative. I even called State of Fl Wildlife. When the agent got on the phone he didn’t even let me finish my sentence…”I’m calling on muscovy ducks” he assumed, “you wanting to euthanize?” “NO!” I said. I want to know the best protocol for release. I admit I was prejudice. To say that the muscovy are hated here, is an understatement. So I decided to use my best Judgment. after hatch I would have No interaction with them Other than slip them their food and water until I felt they were big/strong enough for release. First time I let them out to stretch their legs and clean there box, they came straight for me and attacked me!!.. with nibble kisses and little whispers. That was it..they are mine. They are the sweetest No comparison to ducks or chickens!

    ok so my problem is one of them is missing. I don’t see how it could be a preditor since they perch way high in a tree every night. They are the only ones i don’t put in at night.
    they put up with that for the first couple weeks but when they started flying they would not come down to get in the enclosure. I have not found feathers anywhere to indicate this. If it is because its a “she” and is sitting on eggs somewhere wouldn’t she come around for water/food. Its now been five days? FYI, they are about six months old. A couple months ago the two (I have) paired up and the one that is missing was with them but always a little distant. Please assist

    1. Perching in a tree does not guarantee safety from predators. I’m not exactly sure what kind of predator might get to them, but I’ve heard of Muscovies being attacked during the night while sleeping in a tree.

      If she was sitting on eggs, she probably would come for food and water, but you wouldn’t necessarily have noticed. She could have come at any time of day or night.

      However, I’m guessing she might have flown away. I didn’t clip my ducks’ wings when I first got them, years ago, and at first they seemed fine and never flew too far. However, then two of them flew away. We found one, and the other returned the next day. Not long after that, a third duck flew away and never returned. It’s not necessarily that they intend to leave you. They just fly for fun and then get lost. A domestic Muscovy flew into our yard a few weeks ago. We had no idea where she came from, so we kept her and clipped her wings, but there is someone, somewhere, who is now wondering what happened to one of their ducks.

      I’m sorry you lost a duck and it would be wonderful if she somehow returned. Please clip the other ducks’ wings before they fly away too!

      Your story was so nice to read and I’m so glad you kept them. I’ve heard of the problems with feral Muscovies in Florida and other areas. It would be great if there was some program to reduce or remove the feral population without killing them, since they don’t belong there and cause so many problems and go through so much hardship.

  14. Hi. There are 5 muscovy ducks that have been coming to my house for a couple months. It’s a dead end street and they like to sit by the ever present puddle. One of the females recently laid eggs under a Bush on the side of my house. She leaves during day and returns in morning and lays more. I’m able to count 16 eggs now and shes been doing this for 9 days. Will she eventually sit on the eggs all day? How many will she lay? Is there any special food I can give her? Also is there anything I can do to help her protect her babies if and when they hatch? We enjoy having them here and would like to keep them around. Should I put a small kiddy pool or anything for babies? Thank you.

    1. Yes, she’ll probably go broody and sit on the eggs all day pretty soon. It’s not guaranteed, though. Sometimes they lay a clutch and never fully go broody.

      I don’t think she’ll lay many more. The largest clutch I ever had was about twelve eggs, if I remember correctly. (I suppose two ducks are laying in the nest? Ducks only lay one egg a day.)

      You don’t NEED to give her anything since I suppose she’s been finding all her own food already, but you can feed her if you want to. Chicken feed will be fine, and you can add in some treats like tomatoes or other veggies if you’d like. Just don’t solely feed her something with little nutrition such as bread, veggies, or scratch, because it can mess up the balance of her diet.

      The only way to fully protect her babies would be to put them in a covered pen, but that would mean putting them in captivity, which probably isn’t legal (assuming these are wild/feral Muscovies).

      You can put up a kiddy pool if you’d like, but if she’s skittish, she might be wary of it and not want to let her babies in it.

      Hope that helps! 😃

  15. We have “inherited” our neighbors muskovey ducks! Not by our choice, the hens all went broody at the same time and decided, hey I like their yard better!! But I also have lots of chickens and lots and lots of water and food available always. I refused to feed them when they came up so they just jumped into the chicken pen and voila food!! So now they have all had babies and are all about half the size of the mommas. One hen stays on the pond with her babies but one has decided that she and her big babies are going to just stay in the chicken pen! Are my chickens ok with them in there? They don’t seem to fight but I worry about overcrowding and everyone not getting proper nutrition. The enclosure is 1/2 acre wide by 1 1/2 acres long, completely wooded…. I have a separate 1/4 acre pen just for baby chicks and new mommas. When can we expect wing feathers and such from the little ducklings. Should we clip wings???? Help new to DUCKS!!

    By the way, can’t stand my neighbors because they do not take care of the animals they get!! Their animals come to our house for food and care.

    1. Chickens and ducks usually get along fine…EXCEPT that drakes will often try to mate the chickens. Since ducks and chickens have very different anatomy, this can be deadly to the chickens. It’s important to separate drakes from female chickens.

      Overcrowding: If they’re only in this enclosure for the night, the rule of thumb is 1-2 square feet per chicken (since they are almost completely inactive during the night) and 4-5 per duck. If they’re in it full time, you need at least ten square feet per bird, preferably more. To me, it sounds like you have plenty of space, but it depends on how many birds you have.

      Nutrition: Be sure you have multiple feeders so there’s always space for everyone to eat. Ducks can eat chicken feed, although they do need more niacin than chickens, so many poultry raisers add extra niacin to their ducks’ diets. Also, medicated chick feed is dangerous for ducklings.

      Wing feathers: They’re usually fully feathered and start learning to fly by approximately four months of age.

      Clipping wings: Yes, I recommend clipping their wings. When I was a kid, I had five Muscovy ducks and I was heartbroken when three of them flew away. One we found, one returned the next day, and the third, Snowy, probably starved to death in the desert. Better safe than sorry. Just clip them.

      I think you should try to do something about those neighbors. If authorities won’t do anything (which sometimes happens), maybe you can try to talk them into selling you their animals. I’m glad they’re at least free to come to your place!

      I hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

  16. I have a young pair of Muscovy ducks. I live in subtropical Queensland . Her first lay was 40 eggs which I ate. She had a two month break then started to lay again. I currently have 20 eggs in a incubator but she has maybe 10 or so eggs she sits on under a bushy part of my garden. My question is some times I find her off the eggs and with the Drake. I can’t be sure how long she has been off but next time I check she seems to be sitting again. How long can they take breaks for and still have eggs hatch

    1. Hi Jim,

      It sounds like she might not be fully broody. A fully broody duck will only leave their nest for half an hour a day or less, although if the temperature is warm, they can leave for one or even two hours without the eggs dying. Many of my ducks will go “half broody” and stay on the nest roughly half the day, for a few days. Then they either forget about being broody, or decide to go fully broody.

      So no, the eggs won’t survive if she’s gone for over an hour a day. But it’s possible she isn’t even fully broody yet. Give her a few days and see what happens. Hope that helps!

      Hannah

  17. Hello! I have a question I was hoping you might be able to answer. I’m designing a coop for meat birds that will be harvested fairly young and I’m having a hard time finding information on perching behavior. I know Muscovy like to roost, though not in the true sense like a chicken, but at what age to they start showing this trait? I’d like to build a roost structure with flat 2×4’s so they have a large area under foot. I’ll probably add some ramps as well because I intend to clip wings. Are they grounded as young ducklings and then begin to roost around six weeks? Earlier? Later? I’d greatly appreciate any advice! Thank You!

    1. Hi Ash,

      I’m not exactly sure when they start perching since I haven’t paid much attention, but it’s definitely later than six weeks. They barely even have feathers by six weeks. It might be more like twelve weeks. By the way, if you are planning to harvest them early, there is probably no need to clip their wings, because by the time they’re fully feathered and able to fly, around sixteen weeks, they’re also close to full size. I don’t even think roosts/perches are necessary since, depending on when exactly you will butcher them, they will have only a few weeks at maximum to enjoy perching. You can do it if you’d like, but there’s no need.

      I hope that helps!
      Hannah

  18. Hi! I live in Miami on a lake in the suburbs. We had a duck who had a HUGE mask. Recently we found “him” and another female dead on our lake shore and had them autopsied to make sure nothing odd had happened. They drowned, probably from rough mating, but the large duck with the HUGE mask ended up being a girl. No one can/will/care to explain why her mask was so huge. We are very curious. “He” lived in our yard with 2 other females but I can’t remember if I ever saw them mating. I wonder if they could have gotten their ducks mixed up in the necropsy. Its mask was so big that it partially covered its eyes. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Also, I see pictures of ducks on beds, can they be potty trained? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Sorry to hear about them dying. 😢 I have never, ever seen a female Muscovy with caruncles large enough to cover its eyes. However, it might be possible. Can you remember what his/her voice was like? Did the duck hiss (which would signify a male), or utter a soft cooing, trilling sound? There have also been cases of ducks switching sexes, although it’s rare. I think it’s also possible for a duck to be a hermaphrodite.

      I really don’t know. It could be a girl with strangely large caruncles. It could be a drake and there was a mistake made in the necropsy, as you said. Or it could be that it was a hermaphrodite or even switched sexes at some point in its life.

      No, ducks can’t be potty trained, as they lack the muscles to hold in their poop. However, many people buy or make duck diapers in order to allow their ducks in the house. Some people also take away their ducks’ food and water, wait a while (I’m not sure how long, maybe half an hour) so they have time to poop out whatever they might have eaten previously, and then let their ducks in the house for an hour or two before they have to give them access to food and water again.

      I hope that helps!
      Hannah

  19. Hey hey!
    I have 3 Muscovy females and one unknown duckling. Over the past week one of the females has become aggressive whenever we cross paths and she has also been bullying one of the other female ducks. Its been getting worse since we removed the aggressive drake from the picture. Any tips on what to do with my cranky female?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Jackie,

      I’m really not sure what to do with a duck that bullies other ducks, besides separating her. If you can’t do that, make sure the other duck has plenty of space to escape and eat on her own without having to be near the aggressive one. As far as aggression toward humans, I wrote an article on that: http://www.raising-ducks.com/aggressive-drakes/ It’s aimed at drakes, but it should help with aggressive female ducks as well.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah

  20. Good morning. I have a question I had a Muscovy duck that just showed up in my back yard about a week ago. I don’t know the gender of it. What can I feed it. It stays on the bank in the back yard where the creek is. I live in eastern Kentucky weather will start cooling off soon an if it continues to stay here I want to be prepared to help it survive when it turns cold cold. Like food an should i make some kind of roof shelter for it. Any help an suggestions would be great. Thanks Peggy.

    1. Hi Peggy,

      I’d suggest feeding it ordinary chicken feed, or poultry feed if it’s available. Anything else is too likely to mess up their diet, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

      I’m not sure how cold it gets in Kentucky. Ducks in general are very cold-hardy, although Muscovies are prone to frostbite on their caruncles. A nice dry dog house with deep bedding would be plenty, I think, if it’s not too cold. If that’s not enough, maybe you could add a heat lamp.

      The duck might migrate or decide to leave at any time, however. It seems that would be the natural choice, with winter approaching.

      It doesn’t snow at all where I live, so this is definitely not my area of expertise. I hope it helped anyway!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  21. Hi, I’ve raised muscovy ducks for almost four years, and I really enjoyed this reading, it explains everything I´ve learning with them. The’re absolutely adorable. But I have a question, I have two white males, father and son, they’re 4 and 2 years old, and neither one likes to bathe, why?? The’re so dirty, brown, with things stick to them, and when I put them in water, they run away like if the water is fire. Every other ducks, females and juveniles really like to bath… My younger drake is so much loving, I use to have in my lap, pet him, kiss him… but he stinks… What can I do? Why don’t my drakes like to bath?

    1. Hi Isabel,

      I really have no idea. It seems to be a common complaint across Muscovy drake owners. All of mine hate bathing too, except that I do have two young (6 month old) drakes that swim in our pond every day. I don’t know if they will grow it of it when they’re older. Some people physically give their drakes baths just so they don’t stink. 😂

      This picture exemplifies the problem perfectly, I think:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BmZEC74A0cV/?taken-by=therealducklady

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi, thanks a lot. I thought it was just mines… thank you.
        I wish you very luck with your lovely ducks. And thanks for your help.
        Regards from Portugal.
        Isabel

  22. I have a question. I have a male and female muscovy pair. They have been together for at least 4 years. She has two ducklings (at least 2 mos old) following her around. Recently she is chasing the big male around the pen and biting at him. She did not do this before. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Virginia,

      Actually, I don’t know. That’s not a situation that happens often. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a female chasing a male. A quick Google search yielded me nothing. (Apparently Google doesn’t know that the order of words matters–it thought I was talking about male ducks chasing females. 😆)

      The only thing I can think of is that she’s trying to keep him away from her babies, even though I’ve never seen that happen before, and I would have thought it would only happen while the ducklings were tiny, not suddenly start when they’re already half grown.

      My only suggestion is to wait and see if she stops soon. In the meantime, make sure the drake has access to somewhere safe so he can get away if he needs to. If she continues, you might consider adding a few more female ducks, although I really don’t know if it would help or not.

      Sorry I can’t help you any more!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi Hannah and Virginia,

        Just wanted to say, my female chases my male around with her wings back, head down and pulls on or out his feather. Only seems to do it when she has eggs. I didn’t know it wasn’t common, I just assumed she was being protective of her eggs. Last time she got so bad, I took her eggs away. This time she’s not as bad, still chases him a little but isn’t pulling on feathers.

        Kind Regards,
        Susie

        1. Hi Susie,

          So then it does happen. My ducks do tend to be “grumpy” and chase other ducks when they’re broody, but I haven’t noticed them specifically targeting males, or chasing the males at all. However, in a flock of just one male and one female, I suppose it could be far more common. I didn’t really think of that before.

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

  23. Hello and thank you for the very substantial content of this blog! We farm in the upper midwest – southeast WI, and currently are raising heritage midget white turkeys, meat chickens, and muscovy ducks. Our ducks are currently 4 months old and thought penned at night in a covered (chicken wire) kennel, they are free during the day. I am wondering:
    1) given our cold winters, how easily will the muscovy feet succumb to frost bite when allowed to roam on the frozen turf during winter?
    2) at what point would they likely start laying given they are 4 months old, and it is now October and night time temps are under 30 degrees and dipping, with daylight at 11 hrs and dipping as well? I am not aiming to provide extra daylight by “turning light to my ducks” and doing multiple chores during WI cold winters is not my ultimate goal. Will they likely starting laying later in the first quarter?
    3) Now that it is winter, and the frost will be going deeper here, my “‘roamin’ scobies” will not be finding as much good protein (bugs) when foraging. Will their 16% chicken grower feed be sufficient through the winter? AND, as there will be very little green in their diets from dandelions, etc, (which they love in the pastures they roam), should I be thinking of supplementing? Do you feed kelp, oyster shell, or grit to your muscovies?

    Thank you for all the great responses to your readers! Very helpful.
    Laura

    1. Hi Laura,

      1): It doesn’t snow where I live, so I don’t have personal experience. From what I’ve read, most people keep their Muscovies inside all winter. A few people, however, say that their Muscovies are just fine tramping through the snow (including someone from Ohio–I’m not sure if temperatures there compare to Wisconsin?). You could err on the side of caution and keep them inside, or you could see if they want to be outside. If they do and they seem to do fine (keep a close eye on them, for sure!), I suppose you can let them stay outside, as long as there is some sort of windbreak. I think the wind is generally the biggest issue.

      2): I think they would start laying sometime after temperatures are above freezing, whenever that is in Wisconsin. According to climate charts on Wikipedia, that would be about April, although it’s possible they would start laying earlier or later.

      3): Yes, 16% should be fine. They won’t be laying, and they won’t be growing much, so they don’t really need high protein. I would definitely supplement with greens. It’s not an absolute must, but it makes them so much happier and it is so much better for them. I don’t give my ducks oyster shells, kelp, or grit, because they have six acres to free range on all year round and can find pretty much everything they need to supplement their diet. I’ve tried offering crushed eggshells, but they are never interested. In your situation, however, it would be a good idea to offer at least the grit. Oyster shells are only necessary if they’re laying, and I really haven’t seen that many flock raisers feeding kelp, although of course it’s fantastic for them.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  24. Hi
    We are new to having Muscovies and from reading this it appears that they do not pair. But the question is how many ducks to one drake is reasonable?
    The muscovies are kept in a fully wired enclosure (including the top) with the other poultry, mostly chickens with a couple of geese and 2 Indian Runners. I am hoping that if the drake has enough ducks there will be peace in the farmyard – but how many is enough? The enclosure is about 900sq.ft. for a target number of 30 birds.
    A fully wired enclosure is needed because the local foxes, martins and eagles all expect (my) poultry for lunch!
    Thanks
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter,

      Five to eight females per drake usually suffices. However, if you have chickens in the same enclosure, I would recommend having more than that, because if a drake tries to mate with a chicken, he can kill her, due to their drastically different reproductive systems. In general, it’s not recommended to keep drakes with chickens. Personally, though, I think it can work out just fine, IF you have enough space and enough females to keep the drake fully satisfied.

      I have six drakes currently, and thirty females (thus one to five). I think that’s probably more than optimal, though, because we’ve been having relatively frequent fights ever since the two youngest drakes matured. We’ll probably be processing one of them soon. I doubt this many drakes would work if they were in an enclosure, though. Ours free range for the day and are split into three pens for the night, so there are only two drakes per pen.

      I also do have chickens who free range with them, but they’re not mature yet, so I don’t know if there will be issues yet. So far, the ducks have completely ignored the chickens.

      A lot of it also depends on the individual drake. It’s crazy how massive the differences are between my six drakes. I know some of mine would work just fine in a situation like you have described, in an enclosure with five or six females, and wouldn’t mess with the geese or chickens or start any commotion. On the other hand, I know some of my other drakes would probably cause a daily pandemonium. LOL

      In summary, more is better, and I would suggest about eight females per drake. It’s still possible there will be issues, though, and you may need to add more. There’s also a chance that it will be impossible to keep a drake with your chickens, because some drakes will just never stop chasing after girls, no matter the species and no matter how many they already have.

      I hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

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